This afternoon I popped by The Women’s Library for Zinefest. It’s funny, because in children’s book societies, most of my friends are women, but in comics here I’ve found the meetings generally have one female for every twenty blokes. So this was the reverse, about one guy for every twenty women, and unsurprisingly, I hardly knew anyone. I had a good time looking at the exhibition (I’d donated a print of Terrence Trotter) and tried not to be self-conscious that almost everyone else’s comics were about women and mine was about a little boy pig. Ah, well.

Just as I really thought I wasn’t going to see a single familiar face, I suddenly found the Caption crowd (hooray!): Jay Eales, Selina Lock and Jenny Linn-Cole. Selina (girlycomic) showed me the latest publication she’d edited, The Girly Comic, a collection of all the Girly Comic anthologies and a really attractive, slick piece of work. Nice job, Selina! She’ll have it on sale at her table at the UK Web & Mini Comix Thing in London on 28 March.

On the Factor Fiction website: The Girly Comic is a comic strip anthology that was first launched at the Comics 2002 Festival in the UK. After witnessing the sight of so many comics widows being dragged around by their partners at Comics 2001, I decided that it was about time that someone attempted to fill that niche market! While by no means restricted just to women readers, the plan was to produce something a little more woman-friendly than a lot of mainstream comic titles out there, with a diversity of material, at an affordable price.

I’ve heard Will Kirkby mention Liz Greenfield (lizgreenfield) a few times, so I was very curious to meet her. She had a table with Sophie Peck and I bought one of Liz’s comics and a zine the two of them had put together specially for Zinefest.

Liz Greenfield and Sophie Peck

Here’s Melanie Madison, Zinefest’s main organiser:

Here are two sketches I made during one of the talks. I never caught their names, but the shy anarchist on the left represented The Rag in Dublin and the other was a long-time participant in Outwrite women’s newspaper.

I went to another talk by Colette Rosa called ‘History of Queer Zines’ and saw Sina Shamsavari, who gave a talk on queer comics at Comica at the V&A. Some of the comments raised in the discussion included a thought that queer zines seem to keep reinventing the wheel because zines are so ephemeral; Rosa encouraged people to archive their zines with the British Library (which is very interested in collecting zines), The Women’s Library, the V&A queer comics collection and even local libraries. Shamsavari commented on the difficulty of learning about zines in languages other than English, and I put in a plug for Comix Influx, which is keen to get grass-roots translations of comics (and very likely zines) from French and other languages.
Rachel House was very chuffed to see several of her zine pages and comics show up in the history slideshow, and she was there with Jo David, her partner in running Space Station 65 in East Dulwich. (They were the people who originally put me in touch with Melanie when I ran into them at Frieze art fair last year.) I was also glad to run into Anna Mondo (mondoagogo) whom I met for the first time at last year’s Caption. And Jimi Gherkin was buzzing around the tables plugging the Alternative Press Fair.

Jo David, Sina Shamsavari and Rachel House

Jenny Linn-Cole with the very lovely cupcake trolley

I was very impressed by the interior of The Women’s Library building (just around the corner from Aldgate East tube station): lots of great exhibition space, a nice lobby lounge and reading room and several good event rooms. (Makes mental note for future exhibitions.)

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